Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives say bipartisan support for Ukraine remains strong in Congress, which last week passed another massive aid package for the country — $40 billion worth of weapons and other aid to help the country in its fight against Russia.
Representative Michael McCaul (Republican-Texas) said members were aware of the horrific circumstances caused by the war and when they visit countries such as Romania, Poland, and Moldova, which have taken in millions of people who have fled the war, they always return “in a very bipartisan manner.”
McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Representative Gregory Meeks (Democrat-New York), the committee’s chairman, spoke in an interview on May 25 at RFE/RL’s headquarters in Prague.
The visit followed passage of the $40 billion bill to send military, economic, and food aid to Ukraine that President Joe Biden signed into law last week. It came two months after the passage of a $13.6 billion aid bill for Ukraine and passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 368-57.
But all no votes came from Republicans, fueling warnings about isolationist tendencies in the current election year.
McCaul denied that the vote revealed any fractures in the bipartisanship that Congress has shown for Ukraine. Some members had concerns about the size of the package, whose original price tag was $33 billion, he said. Others objected to the short amount of time they had to read it before voting.
“I think most of the no’s on that bill were based on process and not substance,” McCaul said. “So there’s still very, very strong bipartisan support for Ukraine against the horrors of what Mr. Putin is doing.”
McCaul said the people of Ukraine can rely on the U.S. Congress and even after the midterm elections in November there will still be enough votes among Democrats and Republicans to reach a majority.
“I think Ukraine’s earned that,” he said, adding that by many accounts Ukraine is “actually winning this war against what we though was a major world power.”
Meeks said the $40 billion aid bill was passed to ensure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the people of Ukraine have the military protection they need to save their country.
He said the United States was now working “in a in a fashion that is unprecedented” to move weapons as quickly as possible and coordinating closely with allies to ship the equipment that the Ukrainians have requested. He noted that the package included between $4 billion and $5 billion for humanitarian concerns.
Both lawmakers expressed concern about Ukrainian ports being blockaded by Russian forces.
Meeks said the situation was discussed during the congressmen’s visit to Moldova, which is concerned about the situation along with other countries of the world.
“We’re talking about the possibility of starvation in various other parts of the world, particularly on the continent of Africa and other underdeveloped areas,” Meeks said. “We’re talking about the inclusion of inflation all over the world, the cost of food and bread.”
He said that’s why it’s important to give Ukraine what it needs to help it open those ports as the United States approaches problems caused by the war not thinking solely about itself but “the entirety of an interconnected world.”